Middle College HS-Gulfton opens purposefully

Unique high school is one of two in HISD on HCC campuses

When classes started at 11 a.m. at the new Middle College HS-Gulfton Monday, it was clear this was a different type of campus. Students were starting far later than their comprehensive high school counterparts. There was no bell. And socializing was minimal.

gulftonCollegeHsAlthough it was the first day and every procedure was new, there was no chaos. Principal Diana del Pilar called out students’ names, and they moved quietly toward their classrooms — core English, math, science, social studies, and a technology center.

“We’ve got 115 students enrolled!” del Pilar exclaimed.

Within moments, students in an English class were scribbling down a writing prompt. Math students were listening to their instructor explain expectations in the class, and tech students were getting familiar with their new computer stations — the latest Macs loaded with editing and web development programs.

The Gulfton Middle College HS in southwest Houston and its counterpart on the HCC-Fraga campus in east Houston are designed to re-engage bright young people who feel uncomfortable in a traditional high school setting. They can catch up, if need be, and earn college credits and workforce certifications while finishing their diplomas. Classes are small and personal, averaging about 15 students.

“I think I’ve got a good chance here,” said a junior who had transferred from Bellaire HS. “This is more about getting the job done.”

Del Pilar and her staff hand-picked the student body to make sure they were motivated to succeed. About 45 seniors took a week-long leadership course earlier this month, and orientation with parents and guardians was held last Saturday.

Tech teacher Carlos Aguilar gave a homework assignment at that orientation, asking students to write where and how they get their information, how they use it, and to ask their parents the same questions — plus how parents got information before the Internet. To his delight, some students brought in the assignment on the first day — and the guardian of one student even sent in her answers. “It’s a great start,” Aguilar said.

The Middle College High Schools are continuing to accept students, with a maximum enrollment of 150 each. To learn more or to download the application, click here for Gulfton and here for Fraga.